CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 1

It is truly remarkable how much junk is sold in hardware stores these days, and how badly customers are sometimes deceived. Any specifications quoted on the boxes should be taken with more than just a pinch of salt, as they very rarely coincided with our findings in the lab. After all, you can't tell a cooler's performance or noise level simply by unpacking it and looking at it closely. It is therefore highly inadvisable to buy a cooler without having read at least one independent review of it, if you care about getting good results. The sobering balance of the first part of our test covering more than 80 CPU coolers is this: 45% of the products tested here either fail the tests or simply aren't worth their price.

We must emphasize that the width, length and number of heatpipes alone is not a good indication of a product's cooling performance. Just as important, if not more so, is the composition of the gas inside the heatpipes, and the cooling configuration used to dissipate the heat into the surrounding space.

Thermalright offers a very good solution with the IFX-14, a model that provides very good cooling performance Compare Prices on CPU Coolers. Even with all four cores of the quad-core processor under full load, core temperature reached only 62°C. Paired with the Scythe SY1225SL12M fan, the cooler is all but silent in operation. As a result, it receives our recommendation.

We were also especially impressed with the water cooling solution presented by MSI and Watercool. Installing the HydroGen/HT Fusion Dual is extremely easy, and the cooler is ready for use as soon as the reservoir is filled. There are no problems getting the system started, as water flows through the system instantly, and the cooling unit can either be placed on top of your computer case or on the floor. Additionally, the cooler can be monitored through a standard fan header on the motherboard good cooling performance win it our second recommendation.

We were disappointed by manufacturers Scythe, Silverstone, Zerotherm and Zaward. Their products failed the test due to insufficient cooling performance, inferior build quality or an ill-conceived installation procedure.

Join our discussion on this article!

  • Thank you, been wondering what cooler to buy for an OCed Quad, and high temps are good when dying :D
  • sorrii
    ... must be stupid ...! The fan is istalled at wrong side of the cooler ...
  • Thermalright FTW!! Every time.
  • suspect
    I cant believe that photo...sorrii I am with you only a nutjob would use or test it in that configuration!!!
    Noctua clearly state orientation of their coolers and that is ass about.
    Every other review I have read rates the NH-U12F much more highly... always near best in class
  • wkornf
    your numbers of near 70C on every cooler is outrageous, if those numbers are true not a single one of these coolers would keep a computer stable in a closed case outside the northeast. and a couple minutes isnt a good measure of cpus final temp, if u look over a temp log after a long game session you know it creeps up. to many factors.
  • dragunover
    Bullshit article.I agree with wkornf.

    If my Artic silver 5 + Scythe Katana 2 cooler(for only a massive price of 25 USD! I can keep my outdated Pentium D under 100 degrees fahrenheit,infact around HALF of these tests,even under water cooling? Wow,according to this,I should actually worry about getting a quad core because of the heat.And no,I don't have any fans in my case,it's open,only fans are from my GPU,CPU,and my PSU.
    No extra 4 250mm performance fans.And an X38? That's just unbelievable.
  • eaglestrike7339
    Do you guys get the point? They maxed out everything, so the cooler could show off the best that it could do in the most extreme conditions.

    A good article, i especially like the tests for installation and sound, as those are what i would look into most when purchasing a cooler, and unlike CPUs, there are usually no charts to go along with.
  • suspect
    eaglestrike... do you see mounting the noctua fan in the wrong direction as good testing???
    They have it on the top side of the sink flowing in a downward direction!!!
    it goes against basic laws of physics and logic.
  • cliffro
    alot of the coolers listed of a particular design are installed all goofy like, Of course on their open setup it doesn't make much difference(i think)

    but when installed in a normal ATX case, would be detrimental to the coolers performance. Especially coolers designed similar to the Noctua and Scythe Ninja plus.

    I can't be certain about others but Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7 Pro is supposed to be installed like this(one would assume others of similar design would be the same)
  • suspect
    cliffro I think to some degree you are correct but it still does not follow good practice when supposedly collecting data to represent consumer products.
    As these have published manufacturer recomended installations why would you reverse it.
    I recently read a review of the latest Noctua cooler at Legitreviews
    where Noctua actually contacted them on this very issue... as a result they retested and found some improvement in cooling.